The movement of fish from onstream impoundments into connected streams and rivers has traditionally been overlooked in fish stocking decisions but is critical to the ultimate impact of stocking riverine species into reservoirs. Hybrid saugeyes (female walleye Sander vitreus x male sauger S. canadensis) stocked into Deer Creek Reservoir, Ohio, readily move from the reservoir to the tailwater below. Downstream movement of these saugeyes from the tailwater may have consequences for native prey species and parental stocks downstream. We used fixed-station radiotelemetry to quantify the temporal movement patterns of 203 reservoir-stocked saugeyes from the tailwater of the reservoir, the stream flowing from the tailwater, and the river into which the stream flowed. From October 1998 through July 2000, most (75%) saugeyes never left the tailwater, and those that left returned 75% of the time. Overall, saugeyes spent 90% of their time in the tailwater, 7-8% of their time downstream in small streams, and 2-3% of their time farther downstream in the Scioto River (45 km downstream). No radio-tagged saugeyes moved to the Ohio River (155 km downstream). The probability of downstream movement generally increased with increasing flow and when dissolved oxygen dropped to lethal levels in summer. The probability of movement was highest in winter and spring, when it was probably related to spawning, and low in summer (except when dissolved oxygen was low) and fall. The patterns of movement seemed to reflect the relative suitability of tailwater over stream habitat. The predominant use of and return to tailwater habitat after downstream movement limited overall stream and river residence time. Although the daily movement probability for an individual was low, when we apply these rates to all of the stocked saugeyes in the Ohio River drainage, we cannot safely conclude that only small numbers move from reservoir tailwaters to downstream river systems. We recommend that managers refrain from stocking systems for which there are concerns about native species in connected drainages.
Additional publication details
Movement of reservoir-stocked riverine fish between tailwaters and rivers